Can i get a programming job in big companies with out any BA degree?

Hello and greetings to everybody,
I am currently a high school(grade 12) student and i was wondering when i graduate this year should i go to collage or should i resume my programming lessons(am currently learning java programming language aside to my high school lessons and i have a certificate on java) because
I hear many times that a BA degree is not necessary to get a job in programming.

Please any opinion will be appreciated.

A parachute is not technically necessary to survive a fall out of an airplane - but it’s still a good idea.

It’s about percentages. Having a degree will greatly increase the odds of you getting a good, stable job that pays well. There will be more employment opportunities open to you. You will be able to compete for positions that might be closed off to people without a degree, commanding a better salary. Not to mention you will learn many cool things.

When you’re young, 4 years seems like an eternity. But consider that you will be improving the next 60 years of your life. Think of the cool vacations you’ll get to take. Think of the cool car and the hot wife you’ll get. Is it possible to get that without the BS? Yes. But why not invest a few years to greatly increase your odds. And learn a few things. I guarantee you that there will be a lot of things covered in that degree that you don’t even know that you need to know yet.


Many thanks to @kevinSmith for your professional opinion, I will surely consider that.

i would never want to discourage someone from getting their degree… but in this field it rarely matters. The hardest hurdle is going to be getting that first job - after that, it will rarely even come up. I never finished my undergrad degree and have stayed gainfully employed at full market rates for my entire career - working for numerous fortune 100 companies.

in general a degree is often just used in place of experience for hiring entry level dev’s. Once you have experience, that is what matters most. most job listings will say “degree or equivalent experience”… There are exceptions of course.

This is specific to the US though… If you reside elsewhere, it very well may be different.


To add onto @kevinSmith’s post, a lot of people tend to forget the intangible benefits of going to college. Specifically, you’re more likely to meet lifelong friends in college, and it’s also the single largest dating pool that you’ll get in life as well—never again will you be surrounded as many possible dating partners as you will be during college.

Life doesn’t have to be all about programming, and the college experience will help round you out as a person and functional adult.

And yes of course it’s possible to get in the door anywhere without a college degree, but your career likely won’t advance very far without one—i.e., it’ll be less likely for you to get promoted to senior or management positions.


We’ll agree to disagree :slight_smile: Ive been in senior and leadership positions at many respected companies without a degree. And I’ve come across others like me at every one of them (we don’t advertise it though). I’m not special - I’m just competent and experienced, and love what I do!


I’m certainly not saying that one can’t get a development job without a degree. In fact web development is probably one of the fields where a person without a degree is most likely to excel. My point is simply that:

  1. You can learn a lot in school. Yes, you can learn all of that on your own, but some of that will depend on a person’s personality. Some people are really good and teaching themselves and have the discipline to force themselves to work on things they know they should but don’t want to do. It’s my experience as a teacher though, that most people aren’t like that and out short attention span culture is making it worse.

  2. There are jobs that will be closed off to you without a degree. As I search the want ads I see some that won’t even consider you without a BS. I’ve even seen a few that demand someone with a degree from and elite school. Some explicitly want an MS. Yes, there is a smaller percentage of those in this field than in almost any other, but they do exist. And in some companies, it may be that entry level positions may be fine without a degree but advancement might be more difficult. Different companies have different philosophies. Some value degrees very highly. Some won’t care. But we can’t cherry pick the “don’t care” ones and ignore the ones that do.

  3. Better pay. I can’t find hard data on it, but in every other field, all things being equal, a better degree means better pay. I find no reason to assume the laws of economics function differently here.

According to the 2017 SO survey, more than 75% of professional developers have at least a BS in a computer related field. Almost a quarter have an Master’s of some kind. 90% have at least some post-secondary education.

Do you need a degree to be a web developer? No. There are many very successful web developers who are self-taught. And that number is higher than in nearly any other professional field. Yes, a skilled coder can make it to the top. But to some extent they are working at a disadvantage. It’s not impossible, just more difficult than it could have been. As Hugh Keough used to say “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.”

I can’t talk about your personal experience. But I can talk about my observations about the field as a whole and the statistics of it. And how every other field works.

If I were young and had the choice, I would want to maximize my chances. And it is a statistical reality that having that degree increases your odds of success. Is it a guarantee? No. Can it be done without it? More so here than anywhere else. But it still will most likely help.


Sure you dont need a degree. But to get hired you ideally need equivalent experience, and it’s easier to get that experience if you have a degree, etc etc. This applies mainly for first job as @Jason_L says, beyond that matters not a lot. But you need to put in the equivalent effort to get to that point - either way it takes a similar amount of effort and time (and cash if you calculate on time spent learning vs what you could be earning in that time).

Edit: also a degree gives you a chance to do nothing except study what you want to study over a period of years. Unless you are very lucky in life, you get that chance once (when you get state support), and that’s it, [an immensely valuable] chance gone. IMO if you’re unsure, go work for a few years then come back and do a degree, its most valuable when you know what you want, but YMMV

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Can i get a programming job in big companies with out any BA degree?

Bottom line is it’s up to the specific company you’re applying for.
So whatever we say here, or what the survey says – wouldn’t matter much.

Some companies are adamant about it, and is a requirement.
Some companies may not care as long as you can do the job.


Thanks to all of you for your insights.

Just to add to the conversation, if I decided to go to collage is computer science is that the way to go or no one would really mind what profession it is and if I decided to learn another profession while learning programming by my own would I turnout to be successful in both or would I just burn out at one point considering that I am a fairly hard worker?

For most people who work a part-time or even full-time job to afford going to college it takes significantly longer. Also you don’t have to be a student to learn to program. Besides learning autodidactically also IT-apprenticeships exist. When you are an apprentice you get paid (very little but still) instead of paying.

One can take great vacations without a degree. I don’t need a car let alone a cool car, there are buses, trains and bicycles. Also marriage is not necessary, but you still can get married without a degree, and the odds of meeting hot people are the same without a degree.

The philosophy of happiness is not the issue. And my glib comments were meant to emphasize the earning potentials. If you don’t care about money, good for you. Yes, when you’re young, backpacking through the Czech Republic, sleeping on a broken mattress in a hostel, and living off Top Ramen is fun. But when you get older, an all inclusive five star resort in Fiji starts sounding better. And, if you think money doesn’t increase the odds of marrying “well”, then I don’t know what to say. I think you are confusing “possible” and “probable”.

The OP was asking about degrees and getting jobs with big companies. It is a statistical fact that having a degree increases your odds and earning potential. If you want to take a different path, then go for it (and so have I.) But the numbers don’t lie. While web dev is probably the advanced field where it is easiest to find work without a degree, it still does help, especially when applying to big companies. Again, not impossible without a degree, but certainly easier with. The following companies and the percentage of people with degrees:

  • Google: 83%
  • Salesforce: 84%
  • Facebook: 84% (42% with Master’s degrees)
  • Apple: 71%
  • Linkedin: 83%

Again, you can get a job with these companies without a degree. But considering the sheer volume of people coming up without degrees, those slots are going to be very competitive. Again, let’s not confuse possibility with probability. Perhaps what we define as “probable” is subjective, but there are at least degrees of probability here. Not all levels of probabilities are the same.

If I were young and knew what I know now, I’d want to equip myself with every advantage. A sign of maturity is the ability to delay gratification. I’d want to put of my employment for a few years for a great weapon that will dramatically increase my odds of success.

And to reiterate a lost point. you really do learn some things from a CS degree. When I studied programming 20 years ago, I learned things that are still helping me, things that I haven’t seen explained as part of any of the books or tutorials I’ve read. And getting my (unrelated) degrees taught me a lot about how to learn, organize, and convey information, how to meet deadlines - things that I doubt I would have learned anywhere else, besides making great connections. You also are forced to learn a lot of things that you might have skipped over, not just about technology but about art and science and math and the world. Companies are increasingly seeing the value of a liberal arts education. There’s a reason why these big companies favor degrees and pay extra for them - it’s not charity.

I know people like to fancy themselves iconoclasts and poo poo the establishment. But there really is a value to a traditional education. It is a system that has been been developing for thousands of years and it has gotten pretty good. I know people love to extol self-teaching, and we perhaps live in the easiest time to self-teach in the history of mankind. But let’s not abandon a great system just because self-teaching is easier and cheaper. The fact is that most people lack the discipline to be truly effective autodidacts.